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BAE Systems Computers Rocket Towards the Sun Aboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory

MANASSAS, Virginia - Three BAE Systems space computers have taken flight on a NASA satellite to study the sun's influence on Earth and near-Earth space. NASA selected the company's RAD750® and RAD6000® computers to handle large amounts of data processing for its Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, in the harsh, high-radiation solar environment.

Two RAD6000 radiation-hardened computers aboard NASA's Atmospheric Imaging Assembly and the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager payloads will process large volumes of scientific data and manage the satellite's directional orientation. A RAD750 computer will run the software that keeps the spacecraft in orbit.

"This is a unique mission that requires a high tolerance to the extreme conditions encountered near the sun. Our space computers were chosen because they have the flight heritage that shows they thrive in such conditions," said Vic Scuderi, manager of satellite electronics for BAE Systems. "The images provided by the SDO will have 10 times better resolution than high-definition television." 

The first mission to be launched for NASA's "Living With a Star" program, the SDO will address aspects of the sun and solar system that directly affect life on Earth. The SDO will study the origins of solar activity and how space weather derives from it. Measurements of the interior of the sun, the sun's magnetic field, the hot plasma of the solar corona, and the irradiance that creates the ionospheres of the planets will help scientists predict solar variations. Space weather can threaten astronauts, aircraft, satellite communications, navigation systems, and electrical power on Earth.

BAE Systems has been building radiation-hardened computers since the early 1990s and is a leading provider of computers capable of withstanding the radiation, temperature, vibration, and other extremes encountered in space flight. The latest version, the RAD750, was developed through a partnership among BAE Systems, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The RAD6000 is the predecessor to the RAD750.

About BAE Systems

BAE Systems is the premier global defense, security and aerospace company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and customer support services. With approximately 105,000 employees worldwide, BAE Systems' sales exceeded £18.5 billion (US $34.4 billion) in 2008.

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